Bonked by a Big Bamboo

2010 February 17

Below is a journal entry I made while I was in Congo.

The workers here at CFM have been busy all week. We are preparing for the arrival of around 30 missionary church planters who will be here for a week of training, encouragement, and spiritual refreshing. Last week we began assembling a one-day-church structure to be used as a men's dormitory for this conference as well as future events. The steel structure and tin roofing are finished now. Yesterday the workers went into the jungle to gather long bamboo stalks, some reaching 40 feet or more and reaching a diameter of 4-5 inches. They cut sections of bamboo Piece of bamboo and lash it together with rutan, a natural vine found in the jungle, to form walls for the structure. The walls are temporary, but should last about a year.

My project for yesterday (and much of the week) was to fit some warped doors to warped door frames. I realized that I needed a chisel and walked over to the shop area to find one. It was evening, and about the same time the flat-bed truck arrived piled high with these long bamboo stalks. They were going to park it within the walled area next to the shop for the night and resume wall construction on the dormatory the next day. I entered the gate ahead of the truck and picked up an extension cord, clearing a path for the truck. Then, as the truck entered and turned toward it's parking spot, a dangerous situation quickly developed.

The lengths of bamboo extended past the end of the truck by perhaps 6 Truckload of bamboo meters. As the truck turned right and passed the gate, the bamboo in the bed had not yet finished entering the gate and one length of bamboo in particular (probably 3-4" in diameter) started bending on the left side of the gate. The further the truck turned, the more the bamboo section curved like a pole-vaulting stick. More and more tension was building up and I thought to myself, "This thing is going to spring; I'd better back up out of the way." So I backed up into the corner between the shop and a container.

As I was backing up, suddenly something whacked me on my forehead above my right eye with an immense force. I do not remember seeing anything coming toward me, but the bamboo had released its tension with tremendous force and had smacked me on the head just above my eye. The vivid cracking sound was impressive enough that I wondered it if was the bamboo or my skull. For a few moments I am not clear on what happened. Then I was on the ground with a bunch of excited guys around me. I reached up my hand to feel the injury, dripping with plenty of blood. One took off his shirt and applied pressure to my head. As I pieced together what was happening I wondered how long I would remain conscious. I thought that I was bleeding from my nose, and that really scared me and I told one of them in French to go get somebody for help.

Those were a couple of scary minutes for me, not knowing how seriously I was injured. Thankfully I was not in terrible pain, the bleeding slowed down, and my glasses were still usable. I sat up, then tried standing, realizing that I was probably OK. Then some of the Americans showed up and after a bit we walked to the house.

The cut was not large, maybe 3/4" long and V shaped. The impact was only maybe 2" from my right eye. If it had hit my eye, I would nearly certainly have lost that eye. I've never been hit with anything that hard before. If it had been just a bit lower and had hit my on my neck, results could easily have been fatal. I do not want to play the "what if" game in my head, but only want to recognize God's protection yet again. Two days later my head is quite sore and a lingering headache shows itself when I turn my head quickly. But how minor that is compared to what it could have been! I thank God for His blessings and care over me in times like this when I can see His protection and in the times when I am not conscious of His protection.

Attached you will see a picture of the truck with the load of bamboo and a cross section of a medium-sized bamboo section in my hand, about the size that whacked me.

Jonathan